Back Through Time
03 June 2011
by Tom Dare
Pirate metallers Alestorm stand accused not of piracy on the high seas, but of being insufferably shite. However, innocent until proven guilty and all that. So, by the power invested in me by my keyboard, I present to you the latest evidence: Back Through Time. And may God have mercy on my ears.
No frills fun about booze and piratical japes is all well and good, but eventually the sea shanty rhythms have to contain some memorable hooks to back them up, and at this point it is the perpetually awful vocals that let things down irreparably. What’s really needed is a singer who sounds like he sleeps with a cigar in his mouth, has brandy for saliva, a big beer gut and bollocks the size of beach balls to provide some lusty memorable choruses. Instead, we have that same old tuneless, weedy shouting that simply couldn’t carry the necessary lustre even if Jerry Bruckheimer was producing.
Even more concerning, the descent into twee, predictable and occasionally nauseating “yo-ho-ho, arrgh, avast, aren’t pirates awesome?!?1/!/one?” melodies happens way too often, most abominably on the cringe-inducing ‘Swashbuckled‘. If the party thrash song about Buckfast (haven’t we already got Municipal Waste for this?) wasn’t annoying, juvenile and crass enough, we have the horrendous ‘Rum‘ and a very strident if clumsy “fuck you” to their critics in the shape of the appropriately titled ‘Scraping The Barrel‘.
Most damning of all, the cover of The Wurzel’s ‘I Am A Cider Drinker‘ is an atrocity that makes the worst moments of Pink Bubbles Go Ape look like Holy Diver. Following it up with the inevitable dysentery-inducing LazyTown cover only compounds what can only be described as a criminal record.
Watch the video to ‘Shipwrecked’ here. Avast, scurvy dogs etc:
In all of this, there are some signs of solid musical ideas, even if they aren’t remotely capitalised on. Some of the bells and whistles are fun and moderately entertaining early on, and the final original song ‘Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid‘ which sounds like Cradle Of Filth doing a pirate song is good…
Actually fuck it, this record has no defence.
Three acceptable songs, one good one and nine that range from weak to “I’d rather snog Bill Nighy’s CGI squidface from POTC2 while having my helmet polished with an electric sander than listen to this shit ever again”. The lows are just too intolerable to be balanced out by the lukewarm enthusiasm even the best bits conjure up. Pirate metal covers of The Wurzels belong at the bottom of the deepest, coldest ocean on earth.
Guilty as charged.
Walk the plank/6
Sounds like: a good argument for outlawing the accordion
Top tracks: Shipwrecked, Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid
Alestorm – Back Through Time tracklisting:
Back Through Time
The Sunk’n Norwegian
Scraping The Barrel
Barrett’s Privateers (Stan Rogers cover)
Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid
I Am A Cider Drinker (The Wurzels cover)
You Are A Pirate (Lazytown cover)